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S.D. Opera Faces Labor Trial

A complaint against San Diego Opera was issued March 7 by the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Los Angeles regarding the San Diego company’s treatment of local makeup artists and wig makers.

“The opera committed unfair labor practices by not hiring these workers,” stated James McDermott, regional attorney for the NLRB. He stated that the regional board’s ruling set in motion a trial scheduled for June 20, 1989, in which the opera will be accused of violating the National Labor Relations Act.

“We were not surprised with the issuance of the complaint against the opera,” said David Sackman, attorney for Local 706. “It calls for the reinstatement of all the people involved with back pay and requires the opera to bargain with the union.” Opera General Director Ian Campbell refused to comment on the complaint.

Local 706 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees had filed the complaint against the opera in early January on behalf of Paul Best, the opera’s former head wig maker and makeup artist, and other workers who were seeking union representation. According to Best, the opera withdrew its customary offer of seasonal employment to him and his fellow workers in December when the opera discovered they wanted to unionize.

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McDermott added that his office has recommended that the NLRB’s general counsel in Washington issue an injunction to provide an earlier trial date.


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